UP TO 80 youths aged between 15 and 24 sleep rough in Armidale every night.
There’s also a rise in diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases in the same age bracket and a higher than average rate of unemployment.
Yet there is no single authority in the district responsible for these and other youths, a landmark review has found.
“At the same time, there is a prevailing view held by practitioners and members of the public that there is someone in control,” report authors Adam Blakester and Kelly Dargan found.
Their findings were endorsed by Armidale Regional Council earlier this month.
It has also cast doubt on a proposed youth centre in Allingham Street and youth access and referral centre in Rusden Street.
“Re-purposing the Rusden Street site will mean an expensive upgrade and there is no ongoing funding for such ventures,” Mr Blakester said following publication of the Armidale Youth Services Review.
Mr Blakester and Ms Dargan spent weeks compiling the review for the now defunct Armidale Dumaresq Council.
They contacted up to 100 different service providers operating in the district as part of a survey into youth services, however, received just seven respondents.
Mr Blakester recommended providing more crisis and short-term accommodation for youth.
He also suggested the provision of a facility or service designated for people aged under 18 with alcohol and-or drug abuse problems.
But he stopped short of calling for the youth centre or referral centre.
Former deputy mayor and youth worker Chris Halligan, who has been pushing for such services, said he was concerned the decision to endorse Mr Blakester’s report would rescind a previous decision to support the youth centres.
“Two years ago at the Armidale Youth Forum I answered questions from the floor, from young people and carers who were seeking an independent venue for youth and related services, and who spoke strongly about mental health issues for young people and the need for these serious
matters to be addressed,” Mr Halligan said.
“I have met [administrator Ian Tiley] in relation to these matters ... and I appreciate that the needs of our young people have been carried forward formally within the newly established Armidale Regional Council's agenda.”
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